15/03/2017

Åbningstale til CPH:DOX

Kulturminister Mette Bocks åbningstale til dokumentarfilmfestivalen CPH:DOX

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Good evening, everybody!

In their review of “Last Men in Aleppo”, the influential magazine The Hollywood Reporter called the film "Hard to watch, but necessary".

And isn’t that what documentaries are all about?

Telling a story that is necessary to tell.

But that can also be hard to watch.

Because there are some things we do not want to see.

And yet we need to see them.

Copenhagen Dox opens with a necessary story about the civil war in Syria. Or more correctly about the daily life in a civil war: the fear, the bombs, the courage – and ultimately the total despair of a situation where the world community has failed to stop the violence.

“Last Men in Aleppo” by the Syrian director Feras Fayyad was recorded last year when bombs were raining on Aleppo and the city’s about 250.000 remaining civilians.

We have all seen the terrifying pictures from a ruined city where people try desperately to survive.

In “Last Men in Aleppo” we follow a group of rescue workers from the White Helmets. It gives us an extraordinary look in to a city under fire and the daily struggle of the survivors.

We come close to the life of a few people and are confronted with their own doubts about their sacrifice.

That is hard to watch. But it is also necessary.

Because it gives us new perspectives on what civil war does to people. And at the same time it makes us wiser on what it means to be a human under extreme conditions.

These are perspectives that the normal media cannot provide. Because they don’t have the time, the resources or the access.

It is a unique peek into a terrifying part of reality that only a documentary can provide.

Fortunately Copenhagen Dox offers us a wide range of peeks into reality. Or we maybe should call them interpretations of reality.

Because documentaries are also edited and composed. They are not necessarily snapshots of some objective truth.

The well-known director Werner Herzog said it this way:

“It's all movies for me. And besides, when you say documentaries, in my case, in most of these cases, means "feature film" in disguise.” 

I know that Werner Herzog is a special kind of a character. But documentaries are never neutral and for sure never the only truth.

Documentaries can provide us with more and other facts than the daily media.

Not “alternative facts”. Just other facts.

Documentaries at their best try to portray a complex issue without judging on the subject. They should give the viewer an opportunity to come to his or hers own conclusions.

And in time of fake news and a “them and us” mentality we surely need more of that.

We need documentaries that provoke us and make us question our own assumptions – instead of telling us that we’re always right and “the others” are always wrong.

That is why I’m very preoccupied with how we are shaping our media-system for the future.

We need places for an open conversation and a plurality of perspectives.

We have a strong tradition for this conversation with our Danish media-system that is based on both public service media and private media.

Danish documentaries are a part of this system. We want them to be an important part of the media consumption of an enlightened public.

Even if they can be hard to watch, documentaries are ultimately rewarding.

Because they are necessary.

I wish you all a great festival. 

Thank you.